A multi-national manufacturing group based in Hamburg, Germany will establish its United States headquarters in Manvel. Halteman Carless Solutions (HCS Group) recently purchased the local Shu-Chem Holdings chemical company located at 22102 State Hwy 6 for an undisclosed amount. Along with the ongoing expansion of the nearby E-Z Line plant, the recently upgraded Fagioli facility, and the Pro-Build lumber yard, Manvel will enjoy an enviable collection of notable corporate citizens on its east side along SH 6.
Sue Schwartz, owner and CEO of Shu-Chem, and the CEO of HCS Group, Uwe Nickel, attended this week’s city council meeting to explain the acquisition and to lay out the company’s plan for the Manvel plant. The existing plant utilizes approximately 10 acres from a 100 acre parcel. The company will be requesting of council a zoning change that would categorize the entire site as heavy-commercial so that improvements and expansion to the plant can be undertaken in the years to come. Nickel believes the current operation can be made more productive and projects a doubling of its output through more efficient processes. Additional capacity will be added to the site with a new state of the art plant utilizing another 20 or so acres. Plans presented to council include an initial investment of more than $15 million through 2018 “into significant beautification of the Manvel site and an upgrade of its safety and security measures.” All current employees will retain their positions and plans call for the hiring of additional skilled workers with a realization of “more than a 50% increase of employees within two years.”
Renderings of the planned improvements show the removal of the current support structures to be replaced with a new building that will house the various administrative and support functions. A row of trees and landscaping is envisaged along the SH 6 frontage as well as new fencing and gates. An attractive sign is planned for one of the entrance gates that will identify the Manvel plant. Longer term, Nickel envisions the offering of appropriate infrastructure on the remaining 60-70 acres that would support a chemical park; the intention being to attract additional investors to establish operations on the site. Manvel would see increased employment opportunities and improved tax receipts.
Nickel describes the timeline to begin the initial beautification and improvements as “yesterday.” Council is expected to take up the request for a zoning change and special use permit at its next scheduled meeting on August 24. The process will require public hearings to allow citizen input on the plan. It is likely to be late September before all the legalities are finalized.
HCS Group is one of the world’s oldest and leading global providers of solutions for high-value specialty hydrocarbons and sells to more than 90 countries worldwide. The current company evolved from two German companies formed in the mid to late 1800’s. One of those companies is credited with the creation of a petroleum distillate named “petrol” which established the fuel as a generic name still used today in European countries. Each of the two companies were eventually acquired by multi-national corporations in the early 2000’s, one by Repsol Group and one by Dow Chemical. The two companies ultimately morphed into the current HCS Group in 2011.
HCS Group boasts a diverse portfolio of more than 400 products and blends in seven business lines and utilizes a business model based on high flexibility. That diversity helps the company realize steady earnings that are resistant to economic cycles. Included in their product lines are oil and gas products used for chemical processing, heating oil, and kerosene; middle distillates used in mining and drilling, and the process and offset printing industries; special aromatics and performance solvents used in electronics, and agro-chemical and pharmaceutical applications; automotive products such as brake fluids, anti-freeze, and fuel additives; performance fuels used in automobile racing and aerospace applications; and pentanes used in the production of various types of building insulation products, refrigeration, and cosmetics. HCS Group also offers a line of renewable products that serve to reduce the CO2 footprint and to fulfill the increasing expectations of sustainability.
HCS Group prides itself on its safety record. Each of their facilities are fully ISO certified and the company is committed to the safety and health of its workers and a minimal environmental impact on the communities in which they operate. The company claims no incidents at any of its sites for more than two years and boasts one of its plants has been accident free for more than seven years. Their accident history is described as “way below the chemical company average.”
The company currently operates five plants in Europe and employs 420 workers. Sales offices are located in Germany, the UK, Belgium, and in South Carolina. The South Carolina sales and operations staff will be relocated to Manvel once the merging of the two companies is complete. Sales in 2014 were more than $670 million.
Shu-Chem holdings was established in Manvel in 1983. The plant currently produces alcohols and ester products used in the pharmaceutical and printing industries. CEO Schwartz expects the integration of her company into the HCS Group to “secure the company’s competitiveness and future viability (and) will enable us to create the conditions for further growth and innovation.”